Edmonton Oilers add Ference, Gordon and LaBarbera

Jonathan Willis
July 05 2013 10:46AM

 

Craig MacTavish, just under an hour into free agency, has not brought in a star player for the Oilers but he has made significnat moves, signing three different unrestricted free agents.

Goaltender Jason LaBarbera was rumoured to be joining the Oilers prior to free agency; he'll fill the backup role in Edmonton and both offer the team a reliable player for games where Dubnyk sits. He is seen primarily as a backup goaltender, but it would be a mistake to place him in that role in ink - his performance over the lasst few seasons indicate a player capable of pushing Dubnyk if the incumbent falters. The Oilers have announced that the contract is a one-year deal; price point has yet to be revealed

Defenceman Andrew Ference is coming off a stint in Boston where he filled a second pairing role; it's going to be very interesting to see how he fares in Edmonton. His statistics indicate a guy who wasn't really carrying the load in Boston, and at 34 the question is how long he can maintain what he did last season. The money here is known; the Oilers spent a modest $3.25 million - which is a pretty good deal for a UFA who played top-four minutes on a contender last season - but the flipside is that they committed to the player for four years. If he pans out as a second-pairing left-side defender, this is a nice acquisition.

Centre Boyd Gordon seems likely to replace Shawn Horcoff as Edmonton's third-line centre, barring the addition of another player. His work in Phoenix last year was mind-boggling: he saw top-six opposition and started two out of three shifts in the defensive zone, yet somehow managed to be on the ice for a team-average number of shots for and against. For a checking line centre, that's a phenomenal campaign. The one worry: he benefited a lot from good chemistry with David Moss and wasn't as good in the same role a year prior with other wingers. Gordon played 15:00 per game with the Coyotes, including a lot of time on the penalty kill, and won 57.3 percent of his faceoffs. At 6', 200 pounds he isn't especially big (and he isn't a particularly physical player) but he is a legitimate NHL'er who shores up the depth chart in a significant way. The question now is money; we know he got three years but don't what the Oilers will pay him over that span.

The Oilers' depth needed a significant makeover, and that's what Craig MacTavish has done so far. Despite the lack of a big name, the addition of a third-line centre, a 4/5 defenceman and a backup goaltender all needed doing; the only question at this point is whether the dollars make sense.

At least, that's the only question with these signings; it would be a major surprise if MacTavish was done making moves.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 The Soup Fascist
July 05 2013, 11:23AM
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Oiler Fan in Mazatlan wrote:

For those who were critical of me being critical of the Ference signing...Rob Scudari just signed...4 years 3.25/season. He is about 4 months older than Ference...but has won 2 Cups, is 6'2, 220lbs, and had about the same point total as Ference last season but a better +/-.

That was the guy MacT needed!

Wonderful. But Scuderi was never ever coming here. Your point might have some validity if Scuderi was an option.

He wasn't.

Back to the beach.

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#2 vetinari
July 05 2013, 10:51AM
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Huzzzahhh! May be more "practical" than "bold" but is exactly what we need to stabilize the backend and our bottom six.

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#3 Mike Krushelnyski
July 05 2013, 10:56AM
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Very nice work from Mac T considering that these three guys combined will probably cost around the 5.5M we're saving from Horcoff's contract. Leaves a lot of flexibility to go after some higher end guys.

I really like the idea of Smid-Ference as a shutdown pairing.

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#4 knobert
July 05 2013, 11:22AM
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Oiler Fan in Mazatlan wrote:

For those who were critical of me being critical of the Ference signing...Rob Scudari just signed...4 years 3.25/season. He is about 4 months older than Ference...but has won 2 Cups, is 6'2, 220lbs, and had about the same point total as Ference last season but a better +/-.

That was the guy MacT needed!

annnnnnd probably didnt want to play in the west sot its a moot point really

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#5 oilerjed
July 05 2013, 11:09AM
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Horton got 7 years with Columbus @5.3 per( if it sounds like a prison sentence good, it should). Big risk with a history of concussions and with Mackenzie reporting that he will be having shoulder surgery and not expected back until Dec. Im sure glad we were never in on that.

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#6 oilman3
July 05 2013, 11:13AM
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oilerjed wrote:

Horton got 7 years with Columbus @5.3 per( if it sounds like a prison sentence good, it should). Big risk with a history of concussions and with Mackenzie reporting that he will be having shoulder surgery and not expected back until Dec. Im sure glad we were never in on that.

totally agree. i'm also glad we're not in on clarkson. taking on albatross contracts is not what we need right now. while mact hasn't done anything spectacular, he's made solid moves and acquired needed players in a market that is very difficult to attract free agents too. personally, i'm excited by what i've seen so far.

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#7 Ever the Optimist
July 05 2013, 11:29AM
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vetinari wrote:

Huzzzahhh! May be more "practical" than "bold" but is exactly what we need to stabilize the backend and our bottom six.

compared to the last good few years practical is pretty bold

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#8 Oiler_in_Mexico
July 05 2013, 10:48AM
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Looking for another center and where is Hemsky going?

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#9 Dave
July 05 2013, 10:51AM
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Any news of Ryan Jones ?

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#10 Fresh Mess
July 05 2013, 10:57AM
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Just need to get Viktor Stalberg signed for under 1.5, resign Jones and call it a day. Now EDM should just concentrate on trades.

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#11 DigDeepNBleedBlue
July 05 2013, 11:00AM
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First the blue ride themselves of Horcoff's contract and get a player in return. Magic man Mac-T!

Ference, great pick up! The other two are respectable. Me likey!

Keep this going, baby.

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#12 Dennis
July 05 2013, 11:11AM
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Oilers have also announced signing Jesse Joensuu on a 2 year deal.

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#13 oilerjed
July 05 2013, 11:11AM
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who is Jesse joensuu? ok got it 67 nhl games and not much points put up but a bigger fella. 4th line or two way contract?

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#14 Dennis
July 05 2013, 11:14AM
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@oilerjed

Finnish kid, played forward for the Isles. 6'4" and 209 lbs, depth signing really.

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#15 Oiler Fan in Mazatlan
July 05 2013, 11:14AM
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I can't say I am thrilled by any of the moves made so far. But...at least MacT isn't throwing around stupid money...Ryan Clowe...5 Mil per season? Seriously?

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#16 Halfwise
July 05 2013, 11:15AM
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Ryan Joensuu's Finnish cousin.

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#17 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
July 05 2013, 11:17AM
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Sens got Macarthur?

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#18 oilerjed
July 05 2013, 11:19AM
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Danis went to Philly, didnt know he was up for a new contract. 1 yr 2 way

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#19 Oiler Fan in Mazatlan
July 05 2013, 11:19AM
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For those who were critical of me being critical of the Ference signing...Rob Scudari just signed...4 years 3.25/season. He is about 4 months older than Ference...but has won 2 Cups, is 6'2, 220lbs, and had about the same point total as Ference last season but a better +/-.

That was the guy MacT needed!

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#20 BArmstrong
July 05 2013, 11:25AM
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Oiler Fan in Mazatlan wrote:

For those who were critical of me being critical of the Ference signing...Rob Scudari just signed...4 years 3.25/season. He is about 4 months older than Ference...but has won 2 Cups, is 6'2, 220lbs, and had about the same point total as Ference last season but a better +/-.

That was the guy MacT needed!

That guy WASN'T gonna sign in Edmonton. Shows the Ference numbers aren't bad.

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#21 G Money
July 05 2013, 11:26AM
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Oiler Fan in Mazatlan wrote:

For those who were critical of me being critical of the Ference signing...Rob Scudari just signed...4 years 3.25/season. He is about 4 months older than Ference...but has won 2 Cups, is 6'2, 220lbs, and had about the same point total as Ference last season but a better +/-.

That was the guy MacT needed!

Indeed, he went to Pittsburgh. Easy travel, close to home, and going to a legit contender behind Crosby and Malkin.

Now do the math - how much do the Oilers have to pay him to get him to come here instead?

5 years, 4M a season? Probably. And that's assuming he's willing to come here at all. Scuderi's a New Yorker, Edmonton isn't exactly home.

Ference, an Edmonton boy at that, at 4x3.25 makes more sense.

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#22 TeeVee
July 05 2013, 11:26AM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Wonderful. But Scuderi was never ever coming here. Your point might have some validity if Scuderi was an option.

He wasn't.

Back to the beach.

Exactly. You can only sign guys who want to play here.

Ference is a local guy and will fit perfectly.

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#23 oilerjed
July 05 2013, 11:27AM
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@ mazatlan

Ference may only have 1 cup but tons of experience in the playoffs, late rounds at that. Your doing well though getting bashed on two boards. Like said above Scuderi was never looking at Etown,

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#24 Oiler Fan in Mazatlan
July 05 2013, 11:28AM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Wonderful. But Scuderi was never ever coming here. Your point might have some validity if Scuderi was an option.

He wasn't.

Back to the beach.

That is true...they would probably had to overpay him to come to Edmonton. It wasn't a West/East thing. He just wanted to play on a contender.

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#25 Walter Sobchak
July 05 2013, 11:32AM
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Is it me or do the Oilers have to many of the same defensmen here right now?

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#26 Ducey
July 05 2013, 11:35AM
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Dennis wrote:

Oilers have also announced signing Jesse Joensuu on a 2 year deal.

Maybe an AHL guy who can take Petrell's spot?

6'4" and 212 lbs and a former 2nd round pick of the Islanders. Has put up decent AHL totals over the years. Hopefully has a little more Finnish grit than Petrell. He put up better numbers last year in the Finnish league than Petrell did, and at a younger age.

AHL time means he won't have an adjustment to North America.

Likely means Petrell won't be back. Yay!

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#27 15w40
July 05 2013, 11:35AM
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The riskiest is definitely the Ference deal.

Trades will be the avenue that MacTavish makes or doesn't make his mark as a successful off season.

Hemsky still has to go somewhere but maybe not until the season starts up.

The desire to add "meat" hasn't come to fruition yet at all so there is obviously some work left to do.

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#28 The Soup Fascist
July 05 2013, 11:41AM
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@Walter Sobchak

Maybe but adding any NHL calibre defencemen is an upgrade on the four or so we had a few weeks ago. No clear #1 guy for sure but Ference is not going to hurt. Skates fine and more physical and mean than all of Oilers d men other than maybe Smid.

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#29 Yakman
July 05 2013, 12:13PM
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Willis, who in your opinion is the better Finn? Teemu Hartikainen or this new guy?

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#30 DigDeepNBleedBlue
July 05 2013, 12:18PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Is it me or do the Oilers have to many of the same defensmen here right now?

Maybe size wise, but this guy has got a edge.

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#31 Cody anderson
July 05 2013, 01:27PM
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Any word on Jagr? He would be a pretty descent Hemsky replacement, and on the 3rd line Paajarvi would still get to play with some skill.

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#32 YEGFan
July 05 2013, 01:44PM
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I wonder why nothing has been said about Brenden Morrow. The Olympic team selected him to fill a 3rd / 4th line role. He put up 14 points in the 15 games he played with the Penguins. Former team captain. Yet, you hear nothing about him.

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#33 **
July 05 2013, 07:46PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Maybe but adding any NHL calibre defencemen is an upgrade on the four or so we had a few weeks ago. No clear #1 guy for sure but Ference is not going to hurt. Skates fine and more physical and mean than all of Oilers d men other than maybe Smid.

It looks like the Oilers are going to take a page out of Phoenix's book and are retooling the d-corps for a defense by committee approach.

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#34 Josh waters
July 05 2013, 08:25PM
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Oilers possible defensive pairings Ferrence-j.shultz Belov-kelfbom  N.Shultz-Larsen  Smid-petry

Potter/hemsky trade for 2nd or 3rd line center man + 7th round pick

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#35 gcw_rocks
July 05 2013, 09:45PM
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The Ference deal is awful. Even if they can get one year out of him as a number four, there is zero chance of them getting four years of middle pairing play out of him.

After seeing what centres were going for MacT was foolish not to grab grabo off waivers.

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